Moscow, 15 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian Fuel and Energy Minister Boris Nemstov says Russia has no alternative but to build an oil pipeline sited to the north of the troubled breakaway republic of Chechnya.
Nemtsov's comments, to ITAR-TASS, come at a time when Moscow and Chechnya differ over the tariffs which should be paid for use of the existing oil pipeline through Chechen territory. That pipeline is now out of service because of war damage.
Nemtsov said that in any case at some future date Caspian Sea oil will have to be transported along a northerly route from Azerbaijan to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossisk. Nemtsov said the Russian cabinet will discuss the pipeline issue on September 17.
Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov this weekend downplayed the importance of the pipeline on the Chechen economy, telling a press conference in Grozny that plans to reroute the pipeline north of Chechnya indicate an unwillingness to fulfill previous agreements.